Arusha, March 20, 2002 (FH) - A Rwandan linguist was on Tuesday afternoon admitted, despite strong objections by the defence, as a prosecution expert witness in the so-called media trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The media trial involves three individuals accused of using "hate media" to incite the populace against the Tutsis in 1994.

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Defence teams in this case were strongly opposed to the prosecution calling Dr Mathias Ruzindana as an expert arguing that he was not impartial and that he did not have the competence in his area of specialization to be termed an expert. Dr Ruzindana is employed by the languages section of the ICTR office in Kigali and was to testify as a socio-linguistic expert. The media trial groups three suspects accused of having used the media to incite killings during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The three are: former director of Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) Ferdinand Nahimana; former editor of "Kangura" newspaper Hassan Ngeze; and former politician and RTLM board member Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. Dr Ruzindana has transcribed and translated broadcasts of RTLM radio from Kinyarwanda to French and/or English and is expected to enlighten the court on their content. Prosecution intends to show by the testimony of this witness that RTLM incited anti-Tutsi genocide and massacres. About one million people lost their lives in a period of three months during the massacres, according to a recent census by the Rwandan government. Delivering its decision admitting Dr Ruzindana as an expert, the Chamber stated that he possessed expertise that allowed him to assist the judges in grasping the picture, understanding the content of publications and the sense of terms that are in Kinyarwanda. However, the Chamber stressed their concern about the witness testifying, saying he was no outsider because he is employed by the ICTR and he had worked on the translation of cassettes on broadcasts by RTLM. The defence lawyers maintained that Dr Ruzindana has "committed an act of allegiance" with the prosecution and that he was not recognized as an expert in the circles of other socio-linguists. They argue he had not published any known works. "Twenty years ago they said publish or perish, today they say be cited or perish and he doesn't even meet the requirements of twenty years ago," said lawyer Canadian Rene Martel, co-counsel for Ngeze. But prosecutor Stephen Rapp of America said that Dr Ruzindana had pursued socio-linguistic studies in Rwanda and Britain and supervised the work of students in this domain. The Media Trial started on October 23rd, 2000 and is before Trial Chamber One of the ICTR, composed of judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka. Dr Ruzindana will be the 43rd prosecution witness and was set to start his testimony on Wednesday morning. AT/SW/JA/FH (ME-0320e)